Genre Classification Mess

I have to start by saying I am really tired of trying to classify everything I write or read according to genre. Publishers constantly say they want cross-genre and interstitial books. But it seems like most of the books out there are strict gengr work. When enough people finally break out and get a new genre recognized, everybody spends decades trying to decide what it is. I mean, do we need to know Whether Steampunk is “alternate history sci-fi” or “industrial age fantasy”?

In my science background they solved this problem with a coded list. They assigned a number code by subject so all the topics can be easily distinguished by the various interested parties. You may think that is going overboard for an artistic endeavor like fiction. But think about it. Is Weird-West an “alternate history horror” or a “western speculative fiction”? For people that just want to write and read high fantasy, this seems trivial. But for people with ideas all over the place it gets really old trying to describe the genre to editors when saying contemporary sci-fi or urban fantasy will probably mean something different to them. And how many “punks” are we going to need before we are done? I count five that I know of… But three are just the same kind of thing in different historical periods.

I would just like to list a few numerical codes that an agent can check against the master list. Then everybody knows the general world setting and my neo-gothic paranormal cyberpunk book doesn’t get confused with a space opera.


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